Necessity was the mother of many of DISA's apps

GCN Awards All the programs in the Open Source Corporate Management Information System came to exist because a commercial software program was not available or exceeded the Defense Information System Agency's budget.

One example is the DISA-built Acquisition Workforce application. The app tallies the number of qualified project managers, contracting officer representatives and other pertinent personnel in each office and across the entire agency. "The acquisition vendors told us this could not be built. The acquisition community told us it could not be built," said Richard Nelson, chief of DISA's personnel systems support branch at the Manpower, Personnel and Security Directorate.

For another application, the DISA Balanced Scorecard, DISA had originally contacted a vendor to build the software. The contractor said the project would take a year and $750,000 to develop. Instead, two members of Nelson's team built a prototype of the software in six weeks, Nelson said.

In another case, commercial software was available but couldn't do everything DISA needed it to do. The agency already had built several pieces of its learning management system when DISA found the money for a commercial application. For about $1 million, the agency picked one of the five commercial products that the Office of Personnel Management recommended. However, the commercial product didn’t do many of the tasks that DISA's own software did, so the agency went back to developing its own system.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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